Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible, is a slightly fictionalized narration of the Salem witch trials that occurred in Providence Massachusetts in 1692. It was published in 1953, during the height of the Red Scare in the cold war. For those of you who don’t know, the Red Scare was hysteria over anti-communist sentiments. People were worried that communists were infiltrating the US and were trying to spread communist. As a result, several governmental committees and investigations arose expose the alleged communists. Miller himself became a subject of these investigations.
In The Crucible, Miller seemed to be playing around with the question of morality in terms of honesty. Abigail, along with several other girls, attempted witch to use witchcraft to kill Abigail’s former lover’s wife. When they were caught, they blamed others for bewitching them. They went to great extent to preserve their innocence. They acted as witnesses in the infamous witch trials. They were able to accuse dozens of innocent people and have them declared guilty.
This spurred an endless chain of lies and false testimony. The convicted were offered mercy if they admitted to being a witch and “exposed” their cohorts. What’s more, some used it as an opportunity to strike against their neighbors, fueled by jealousy and greed. I you accused someone of being a witch, they were probably going to be convicted.
However, amidst all the cowardice and corruption, there were those that remained pure. They refused to be a cog in the homicidal machine. Among them were Rebecca Nurse, Giles, and Proctor. Proctor is really interesting because he really had a lot to lose. He had a pregnant wife and several kids. Yet still, he had he chose morality over duality, martyrdom over shame.
Arthur Miller made clear statement on morality in this play. He encouraged the viewers to tell the truth, despite the consequences. Many people died because Abigail was unwilling to take ownership of her actions. Many more would’ve died without the courage of the individuals that spoke out against the trials. This is very applicable to people. Often times, we chose to take the easy path. We blame our failures on others. This both directly and indirectly harm us and those around us. What we don’t realize is in doing so, we hinder our ability to grow as a human being.
If you can smile when things go wrong, you have someone in mind to blame.